CHURCH BLOG

Our Church Blog is here to help you deepen your relationship

with the Lord through resources that speak to everyday issues of life.

 
 
 

Ever-Present Presence

Today’s Scripture & Insight: Matthew 28:16–20
 
During the 2018 World Cup, Colombian forward Radamel Falcao scored in the seventieth minute against Poland, securing a victory. The dramatic goal was Falcao’s thirtieth in international play, earning him the distinction of scoring the most goals by a Colombian player in international competition.
 
Falcao has often used his success on the soccer pitch to share his faith, frequently lifting his jersey after a score to reveal a shirt with the words, Con Jesus nunca estara solo: “With Jesus you’ll never be alone.”
 
Falcao’s statement points us to the reassuring promise from Jesus, “I am with you always, to the very end of the age” (Matthew 28:20). Knowing He was about to return to heaven, Jesus comforted His disciples by assuring them He’d always be with them, through the presence of His Spirit (v. 20; John 14:16–18). Christ’s Spirit would comfort, guide, protect, and empower them as they took the message of Jesus to cities both near and far. And when they experienced periods of intense loneliness in unfamiliar places, Christ’s words would likely echo in their ears, a reminder of His presence with them.
 
No matter where we go, whether close to home or faraway, as we follow Jesus into the unknown we too can cling to this same promise. Even when we experience feelings of loneliness, as we reach out in prayer to Jesus, we can receive comfort knowing He’s with us.
By: Lisa M. Samra
 
Reflect & Pray
How does the assurance that Jesus is always with you provide comfort? How has He comforted you when you felt alone?
Jesus, thank You that I’m never alone because You’re with me.

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In It Together

Today’s Scripture & Insight: Romans 12:9–16
 
During a two-month period in 1994, as many as one million Tutsis were slain in Rwanda by Hutu tribe members bent on killing their fellow countrymen. In the wake of this horrific genocide, Bishop Geoffrey Rwubusisi approached his wife about reaching out to women whose loved ones had been slain. Mary’s reply was, “All I want to do is cry.” She too had lost members of her family. The bishop’s response was that of a wise leader and caring husband: “Mary, gather the women together and cry with them.” He knew his wife’s pain had prepared her to uniquely share in the pain of others.
 
The church, the family of God, is where all of life can be shared—the good and not-so-good. The New Testament words “one another” are used to capture our interdependence. “Be devoted to one another in love. Honor one another above yourselves. . . . Live in harmony with one another” (Romans 12:10, 16). The extent of our connectedness is expressed in verse 15: “Rejoice with those who rejoice; mourn with those who mourn.”
 
While the depth and scope of our pain may pale in comparison with those affected by genocide, it’s nonetheless personal and real. And, as with the pain of Mary, because of what God has done for us it can be embraced and shared for the comfort and good of others.
By: Arthur Jackson
 
Reflect & Pray
When have you allowed someone else to share your sorrow? How does the body of Christ—the church—help you deal with the hard times in life?
Gracious God, forgive me for my reluctance to enter the pain of others. Help me to live more fully as a connected member of Your church.

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A Fire Called Holy

Today’s Scripture & Insight: Luke 3:15–18
 
After several years of drought, the wildfires of Southern California left some residents thinking of them as acts of God. This disturbing impression was reinforced when news sources began referring to one as the Holy Fire. Many unfamiliar with the area didn’t realize it was a reference to the Holy Jim Canyon region. But who was Holy Jim? According to local history, he was a nineteenth-century beekeeper so irreligious and cantankerous that neighbors tagged him with that ironic nickname.
 
John the Baptist’s reference to a baptism of “the Holy Spirit and fire” also came with its own story and explanation (Luke 3:16). Looking back, he was likely thinking of the kind of Messiah and refining fire foreseen by the prophet Malachi (3:1–3; 4:1). But only after the Spirit of God came like wind and fire on the followers of Jesus did the words of Malachi and John come into focus (Acts 2:1–4).
 
The fire John predicted wasn’t what was expected. As a true act of God, it came with boldness to proclaim a different kind of Messiah and holy flame. In the Spirit of Jesus, it exposed and consumed our futile human efforts—while making room for the love, joy, peace, patience, goodness, kindness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control of the Holy Spirit (see Galatians 5:22–23). Those are the acts of God that He would like to work in us.
By: Mart DeHaan
 
Reflect & Pray
How has your life been affected by the work of the Holy Spirit? What does it mean for you to pursue a holy—set apart—life before God?
Father in heaven, please replace our fear of Your Holy Spirit with a love, joy, and peace that is as priceless as our stubborn ways are worthless.

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Long Delays

Genesis 41:25—42:28
 
Joseph was sold into slavery at 17 years of age by his older brothers. For the next 13 years, Joseph held various positions of leadership and influence, as well as spending time in prison due to a false accusation. Joseph had faithfully served Potiphar and acted with complete integrity, even when Potiphar’s wife wanted to seduce him. Still, the innocent young man was sent to prison. He displayed such reliability, even in prison, that the head jailor put him in charge of the other prisoners. Joseph worked faithfully for years until seemingly overnight, God rescued him, taking him out of prison and into the palace where he served second only to Pharaoh for the rest of his life.
 
God’s ways and timing can trouble us. We read this story and want to see Joseph quickly exonerated. He did nothing to merit his brothers’ evil actions or being imprisoned because of the accusation of Potiphar’s wife. Yet, God did not release him from prison for many years. To us, the long delay seems so unjust. But God was at work the entire time! Though we often can’t understand God’s ways, we can trust Him in the mystery. He is a perfectly just God who is both holy and loving in all His ways.
 
Have you ever struggled to trust God when your prayers weren’t answered quickly or in the way you had hoped? Are you praying for a breakthrough right now, and it seems like God is far away and not listening to you? Ask the Holy Spirit to strengthen you through the story of Joseph. Recognize that your story is still being written. Thank God in advance for His faithfulness to work through all the wrong others may have done to you. Rest in the knowledge that He can bring about good from it all.

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Obedience and Relationship

Text: Genesis 26:1-6
 
As we read Genesis 26, we see the fruit and results of obedience.
 
In this passage, God is instructing Isaac not to go down to Egypt, but to settle in the land of the Philistines. God promised to bless Isaac as He had promised to bless Abraham.
 
God promised Isaac that he would give the land where he currently was to his offspring, confirming the oath given to Abraham. And the reason God would do this? “ . . . because Abraham listened to me and kept my mandate, my commands, my statutes, and my instructions. So Isaac settled in Gerar” (Genesis 26:5,6, NIV).
 
Wow! Abraham did what God instructed and kept God’s mandate, commands, statues and instructions—not to be boxed in, but to inherit God’s promise. Obedience wasn’t a matter of following rules. Abraham obeyed because of a relationship of deep faith and trust in God. Abraham and Isaac both were willing to do what God wanted because they trusted God and knew He would keep His promise.
 
We can sense God’s Spirit speaking to us, calling us to full obedience and full surrender. When we choose a lifestyle of faith and trust, we can then go to God first for direction before forging ahead along our own path. We can trust even when the answer is to wait.
 
Like Abraham and Isaac—what is God instructing us? How willing are we to do what He says? Being obedient to God’s leading will make all the difference in our life.

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Restoring Spiritual Decay

Food preservation is a seemingly intriguing topic. Salt is a natural ingredient of the earth, but also necessary for preserving the food we eat. How can those tiny grains of salt make such a difference in warding off decay? Salt kills off bacteria, which cannot survive in its presence.
 
In the Book of Matthew, Jesus compares us to salt as Christians. What did He mean? Some Bible commentators refer to salt being used in agriculture as a type of fertilizer to stimulate growth. Jesus knew we could speak new life into others and help them grow.
 
All around us, every day, our culture shows signs of decay. We see it as we drive the streets of our city—not in noticing the buildings, although they may be decaying also—but by observing some people’s actions and attitudes. We see lack of standards when we scroll through social media posts. We see decadence (a moral decline) in advertising on television, in movies and entertainment, and in the language and conversation we hear on the streets.
What can slow this deterioration we see all around us today? We can! Jesus told us to be the salt of the earth. He told us we can bring light and restoration to the spiritual decay.
 
How are we like salt? We can speak a kind word, instead of an ugly, mean word. We can observe those around us who need a helping hand. We can bring cheer to those who are downtrodden, and comfort to those who grieve. We can speak hope into a degenerating situation. We can be genuinely good people in a world of wickedness.

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